February 20, 1865
The 1st United States Sharpshooters and 2nd United States Sharpshooters, (combined as the 2nd United States Sharpshooters since December 31, 1864) are broken up as a distinct unit, the remaining men and companies doled out to various infantry regiments remaining at the Siege of Petersburg.
Cooper’s Coehorn mortars in Union Battery 15 open fire around 1 p.m. on Confederate working parties putting up abatis “in front of fort to the left of the Baxter road” to the south of the Crater. The Confederates respond, resulting in an artillery duel among Confederate batteries on and near Cemetery Hill with Battery 14, Battery 15, Fort Morton, and Fort Haskell.
Ulysses S. Grant asks Army of the Potomac commander George G. Meade if a strong leader might take Gregg’s Cavalry Division on a bold railroad wrecking expedition from Virginia to North Carolina. Meade recommends Sixth Corps division commander George W. Getty for the role, and asks to see him the next day. Gregg’s Division would be replaced by one of Sheridan’s Cavalry divisions in the Shenandoah Valley.
The Union armies besieging Richmond and Petersburg finally learn of the evacuation (February 15) and capture (February 18) of Charleston and the capture (February 17-18) of Columbia, South Carolina, with a salute ordered along the lines the next day.
Captain Robert T. Lincoln, the President’s eldest son, is ordered to report to Lieutenant General Grant at the Siege of Petersburg for assignment to duty.
Brevet Brigadier General Napoleon B. McLaughlen takes command of First Division, Ninth Corps, Army of the Potomac while Orlando Willcox is away on a leave of absence.
Major General Godfrey Weitzel takes temporary command of the Army of the James while Major General Edward O. C. Ord is away.
Note: All “Today In The Petersburg Campaign” blog entries are used with permission from Ronald A. Mosocco’s Chronological Tracking of the American Civil War per the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion. Order the book HERE.
Copyright © 1993, 1994 by Ronald A. Mosocco
Mentions of This Date at The Siege of Petersburg Online:
- ITINERARY: 48th North Carolina
- OR XLVI P1 #4: Itineraries of the Army of the Potomac, Sheridan’s Cavalry Command, and the Army of the James, January-April 1865
- OR XLVI P1 #6: Reports of Bvt. Col. James C. Duane, Engineers/AotP, Jan 14-Feb 25, 1865
- OR XLVI P1 #180: Returns for the Army of Northern Virginia, Jan 10, 26-31, 31, Feb 10, 20, Feb 24-Mar 1, 1865